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Trees on the City of Jackson’s right of way on Maple Street.  JTV photo.

(September 18, 2023 5:25 PM ET) U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, announced that the City of Jackson  will receive $757,275 to plant and maintain trees, combat the climate crisis, and provide more opportunities for those living in urban areas to enjoy nature. This funding is awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Urban and Community Forestry Program. Senator Stabenow’s office says she was instrumental in securing these funds through the Inflation Reduction Act.

“Planting trees is more than just burying a plant in the ground. It’s about preserving our Michigan way of life for generations to come. Having more green space in a neighborhood helps lower temperatures in extreme heat and improves the health and well-being of those living in these communities,” said Senator Stabenow. “This historic investment will help Mid-Michigan communities combat the climate crisis and create new economic opportunities.”

City of Jackson Public Information Officer Aaron Dimick told JTV News that the $757,275 grant will be matched with local funds for a program to reforest the City’s street right-of-ways over a period of five years.  This grant is an opportunity to restore the trees within the City of Jackson’s street right-of-way with a diverse and resilient stock that will provide a parklike tree-lined aesthetic and canopy cover that matches the original construction of the City’s neighborhoods.  The program will improve the quantity, quality, resilience and diversity of the tree stock.  The program will focus on the entire City and will impact every neighborhood.

In the first phase of the project, City staff will work with trained arborists to develop a computerized inventory of the current tree stock within the City’s street right-of-ways.  The inventory will identify the location, size, species and condition of each tree as well as surrounding constraints such as underground utilities, overhead cables and parkway widths.  This database will then be used to make planning decisions on the best use of funds to strengthen the City’s tree stock.  The database will aid in the understanding of where tree stumps need to be ground, where dead, diseased and hazardous trees need to be removed, where existing trees need to be pruned or trimmed and where new trees need to be planted.

The first phase of the project will take approximately one year to complete.  Once the inventory of existing trees has been completed and a reforestation work plan has been developed, the work to remove stumps and dead, diseased and hazardous trees and plant a diverse selection of site-appropriate trees throughout the City will be completed over a four year period.

The USDA’s Urban and Community Forestry Program invests and partners with state and community tree groups to improve more than 140 million acres of urban and community forest across the United States. This program is also a part of President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which works to ensure that federal benefits reach disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution and underinvestment. It’s currently the only program in the federal government dedicated to enhancing and expanding the nation’s urban forest resources.

According to Senator Stabenow’s office, studies show that trees in communities are associated with improved physical and mental health, lower average temperatures during extreme heat, increased food security, and new economic opportunities.

More information on USDA’s Urban and Community Forestry Program can be found here<https://www.fs.usda.gov/managing-land/urban-forests/ucf>.

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